Truck Accident Lawyer

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Truck Accident Cases

Brien Roche

Brien Roche is an experienced truck accident lawyer serving all of Northern Virginia, including Fairfax, McLean, Vienna, Burke, Annandale, Falls Church Reston, Centreville, Manassas, Alexandria, Herndon, Arlington, and Loudoun County. If you have been involved in a truck accident contact us for a free consultation about your claim.

Truck accident litigation is hard fought and complex. Our roadways are loaded with large trucks which are typically called 18-wheelers. These 18-wheelers or tractor-trailers are mammoth vehicles that occupy their entire lane. Typically, they are driven by experienced drivers, but sometimes these drivers make mistakes.

Factors To Consider In Truck Accident Cases

  • Driver fatigue.
  • Shifting or falling cargo.
  • Faulty inspection and/or improper maintenance.
  • Drunk driving.

Investigating The Truck Accident

In investigating these types of cases some helpful hints are the following:

  • Go online to www.ai.volpe.dot.gov which is a website maintained by the federal government which provides helpful information.
  • Obtain copies of all of the policies of insurance that apply to the tractor, to the trailer, to the trucking company, to their independent contractors and to the shipper.
  • Establish that the trucking company is in fact a motor carrier and that it engages in interstate commerce.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and also the International Fuel Tax Agreement.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require that a driver record duty status for a 24 hour period.  Comparing these types of logs with fuel receipts, bills of lading, delivery manifest, GPS tracking information and accounting records may tell you precisely where the driver was at any point in time and for how many hours the driver had been on the road.  Most motor carriers have a license issued pursuant to the International Fuel Tax Agreement.  This statute requires quarterly reports that involve fuel receipts.  This likewise may show you the extent of driving during any particular period.
  • The black box logs may provide a wealth of information.  This data is downloadable.
  • Aside from the black box there is other electronically stored information in the GPS records, computer generated bills of lading and fuel receipts and other types of electronic communication between the driver and dispatcher.

Truck accident investigation has to be prompt. When a truck accident occurs the insurance carrier and its lawyers are promptly on the case. It is not unusual that when a plaintiff is injured it takes several months before that plaintiff retains counsel. That lapse of time could be critical since many important records relating to a truck accident only need to be retained for six months.

The initial course of action therefore has to be to get a letter out to the trucking company requesting that they preserve all records and data relating to this collision.

The next critical step is to visit the scene with a trucking expert and/or reconstruction expert and perhaps an investigator who can attempt to locate any witnesses not identified on the police report.

Next it is critical to identify anything within the driver’s cab that may have either been a source of communication to or from the driver or a potential distraction to the driver. This can consist of cell phones, text messaging devices, freight tracking equipment and any satellite based navigation or communication system. All of those need to be identified and then data extracted from them.

Truck accident investigation has been made somewhat easier with the recent implementation of the Compliance Safety Accountability Program by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the federal government. The data available from CSA has to be requested through FOIA. This new system is designed to identify potentially high risk trucking companies. The system uses a number of different criteria to provide a rating to different companies. Those criteria are:

  • safety of the driver
  • driver fatigue
  • driver fitness
  • use of drugs or alcohol
  • vehicle maintenance
  • cargo problems
  • number of reported crashes

In perusing this data it is important to make sure that the data you have relates to the company you are investigating. When a company changes hands it receives a new Department of Transportation number.

In addition, the federal government has implemented a new pre-employment screening program that is available only to carriers relating to potential hires. Determining whether the defendant uses that system,if applicable, may certainly be helpful.

Finally, certain carriers that have been demonstrated to have certain non-compliance with log requirements are now required to have an electronic on-board recorder on their trucks. These recorders are less susceptible to manipulation. In reviewing any data from these recorders it is important to be conscious of any audits of this equipment that may have been conducted so as to identify any changes to the log.

Finding Insurance in Truck Accident Cases

The vast majority of trucking companies are entities that carry substantial insurance coverage.  To some extent this is mandated by federal law.  The federal agency that oversees interstate trucking is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Federal law requires the issuance of a MCS-90 Form which is an endorsement to interstate motor carrier’s insurance policies that provides essentially unconditional coverage to the public.  This endorsement is to be attached to the underlying policy that the trucking company maintains.  The language within this endorsement requires that the insurance company agrees to pay any final judgment recovered resulting from negligence regardless of whether or not each motor vehicle is specifically described in the policy.  Under the terms of this endorsement the failure of the trucking company to give proper notice of the claim and their failure to cooperate may not be a basis for a denial of coverage.  The purpose of this endorsement is to provide coverage where the underlying policy does not do so.  It only applies to interstate motor carriers.  Those terms are very specific and they are defined in the regulations.


 

Other Helpful Articles For Injury Cases Resulting From Truck Accidents

Truck Accidents Driver Fault
In looking at the issue of truck driver fault in truck accidents the issues of apnea, falling asleep and drug/alcohol usage all must be considered.Truck Accidents Driver Fault – Apnea The truck accident-sleep apnea connection should be looked at … Continue reading
Truck Accident Blackbox
Truck accident blackbox data must be retrieved promptly. Most heavy duty diesel engine trucks have what is sometimes called a “black box” or more precisely called an Electronic Control Module (ECM) or sometimes called an electronic data recorder. The ECM contains information …Continue reading
For more information on truck accidents see the pages on Wikipedia.
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Truck Accident Lawyer

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation